1. Statement by President Schlissel at Board of Regents meeting on university collaborations

    July 18, 2019

    At our Regent’s meeting last month, we pledged to continue to consider the current relationships amongst our three campuses, while looking for ways to enhance student success on each campus by making strategic investments and promoting shared efficiencies and greater synergy.

    The board, the chancellors and I are always engaged in discussions about how to promote the longstanding excellence of each of our campuses and the success of our students. And following the board’s guidance from when I was hired, we have worked to expand synergies that contribute to the unique missions and priorities of our three campuses – while respecting the independence of their faculties, budgets and leaders. I want to provide everyone with an update of our ongoing activities.

    First, we have examined the multitude of ways that we increase efficiency, avoid duplication and reduce costs for all three campuses. This includes financial, technological and personnel support from Ann Arbor to UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint.

    Information that is posted online provides the details, clarifies a number of misperceptions and highlights the extent of our work to keep tuition low and save taxpayer dollars on each of our three campuses.

    Collaborations among faculty and staff have also drawn from the distinct strengths of each campus. Our M-Cubed research seed fund program, and the Michigan Road Scholars program are open to faculty from all three campuses. And the recent changes we have made in our policy and procedures on sexual misconduct were developed by experts from the three campuses and Michigan Medicine working together.

    With regard to student support, the university provided matching funds for gifts made to Flint and Dearborn for student scholarships as part of the Victors for Michigan campaign.

    To promote student success, each campus must remain free to set its own financial aid priorities based on their own strategic needs. For instance, here in Ann Arbor, we’re working to increase socioeconomic diversity, while in Dearborn and Flint, the goal is to spread financial aid more broadly and to include more merit aid. In fact, more than 94 percent of all full-time, first-time degree-seeking students receive financial aid at Flint and Dearborn whereas the corresponding number in Ann Arbor is 65 percent.

    The Chancellors recommend and the Regents set tuition separately at each school as well, and reflecting the differences of our Dearborn and Flint campuses and their students, it is significantly lower.

    When our efforts and collaborations work effectively, our students see the benefits. For instance, among students seeking transfer into U-M Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint students have a distinct advantage. More than 50 percent of applicants from the two campuses transfer to Ann Arbor, compared with 39 percent for other institutions.

    Materials we’ve shared online also highlight important points and strengths. First, all three campuses are in solid financial positions – as evidenced by our publicly available audited financial statements. All budgets are in balance.

    Second, the suggestion that we have a half billion dollar surplus is simply not correct. This conflation relies on a misreading of our financial statements that, for instance, incorporates revenues generated by providing patient care that we must in turn use for delivering patient care in Michigan Medicine.

    As Regent Diggs noted last month, we have taken steps in previous years to address concerns about student support and campus services. Chancellors Grasso and Borrego will discuss in a moment how support for UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn will align with the priorities coming out of the strategic planning process for each of their campuses to promote student success.

    Chancellors Borrego and Grasso discussed UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn.

    Thank you, Chancellors. The Board and I appreciate your diligence. In addition to our ongoing activities, I will designate funds to help jumpstart the strategic priorities identified by the chancellors and their campus communities. I know our campuses are deeply committed to strategies and tactics that will drive their missions forward — and most importantly, promote the success of our students.